Was It Something We Said?
Just about a month ago we were in the Visitor Center in our nation’s capital hosting a public forum on domestic terrorism, Islamic radicalism, and the threat of shariah law within the United States. The Heritage Foundation, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and the Westminster Institute co-sponsored the event with our radio station WMAL and helped assemble a distinguished panel of foreign policy, military, and legal scholars.
With the ongoing upheaval in the Middle East and the forthcoming Congressional hearings scheduled by Homeland Security Committee Chair Peter King on the extremely controversial subject of radicalization within the American Muslim community, the meeting could not have been better timed. Not surprisingly, the auditorium was filled with listeners to our morning radio show, The Grandy Group, who had been following our regular reports on Islamic extremism for the last several months.
The hour and a half panel discussion was lively and informative and was over much too soon for the audience who left the theater wanting more. We adjourned the meeting with the strong sense that we had struck a nerve in the public conscience. The cumulative effect of the Fort Hood massacre, the Christmas Day and Time Square bomb attempts, and the efforts to erect a huge Islamic Center at Ground Zero in Manhattan had left many Americans feeling insecure in their own country and mistrustful of their public officials.
The attorney general of the United States had refused to acknowledge any connection between the murderous actions of Major Nidal Hasan and calls for violent jihad preached by radical imams over the internet and in mosques throughout the United States. The director of national intelligence had demonstrated his own lack of it by testifying that the Muslim Brotherhood was a “secular organization,” a statement he later recanted. And the slings and arrows of Islamaphobia were already targeting Congressman King, who had yet to call his first witness. Our audience was clearly fed up with political correctness and nostrums of multiculturalism. They wanted an open and uncensored discussion on the spread of Islamic extremism and we pledged to give it to them.
Two weeks later we were off the air.
Despite the consensus of the panel participants and the audience that the forum was an unqualified success, station management was strangely reserved when we returned to work. In fact, we were told we needed to “tone down” the Islam stuff. At the time the Islam stuff amounted to periodic reports from experts in law enforcement and Middle Eastern politics usually on Friday for a-20 minute segment between 8 and 8:30 am. In a broadcast week that spans 20 hours (Monday through Friday, 5 to 9am), this did not seem like an excessive emphasis, particularly on a subject which almost always lit up our call-in lines and spawned numerous emails during and after the broadcast.
To this regular component we added stories during the week that we would have ordinarily covered during any broadcast day. This would include the developing situation in Egypt and Tunisia as well as any relevant statements by the president or members of his cabinet. In addition, as a way to gin up interest in our Capitol Hill event we added a very short segment once a day during the week of the forum, called “Islam for Dhimmies.” In the ideology of jihad, dhimmitude refers to the status of vanquished non-Muslim populations, a second- class citizen status not completely unlike the Jim Crow laws that materialized in this country after the Civil War.
These pieces were never any longer than 3 minutes and were designed to show how our nation’s slavish devotion to multiculturalism was beginning to undermine basic freedoms. It would be difficult to assess whether they had any impact on our show’s popularity since they lasted a sum total of four days.
Of course, any broadcast entity has the absolute right to edit the content of their programs. So when station managers told us to tone down the Islam stuff and we did not (at least in their view), they were completely justified in getting rid of us. For the record, this was not an acrimonious parting. One of us who was not under an employment contract was told not to return and the other who was decided under the circumstances that he could no longer work for the company. Management did what they felt they had to do. We did what we felt we had to do. No complaints and no regrets.
But questions do remain. For example, what exactly was said that was considered intolerable? Stations such as WMAL build their reputations around provocative and even incendiary conversation usually advancing conservative principles and positions. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and local host Chris Plante all inveigh regularly against radical Muslims and lose no time hammering President Obama for his toadying positions on the Middle East. We swam in the same rhetorical stream as they but always tried to buttress our diatribes with facts, figures, and contributions from experts in the field.
In some instances, unlike our colleagues, we even named names. These were individuals affiliated with Muslim Brotherhood front groups who over the last two decades had gone in one of two directions. They were either holding positions of authority in the Clinton, Bush, or Obama administrations or they were in jail. In only one instance did an individual identified by us ask to come on the air and defend himself. We afforded him that opportunity not once but twice.
Perhaps the disqualifying remark came when we claimed the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was an agent of Hamas, a designated foreign terrorist organization. If I were handling public relations for that outfit that would certainly rattle my cage. But, of course, when we made that assertion we were not simply offering our own opinion or that of some blog we had just read. We were citing a federal court case(Holy Land Foundation trial of 2008) which so stipulated.
We will never know the answer because when asked station management said they never received any complaints from CAIR or any other Muslim support group. But if that is true, then what was the problem?
Anway, what’s done is done and ultimately the unanswered questions are not as important to the national conversation on domestic terrorism as the ones that have not yet been asked. Anyone who watched the Peter King hearings would have to conclude they were not a McCarthyesque witch hunt. If anything, they did not go far enough into the connection between radicalized individuals and the infrastructure of mosques, madrassahs, and nonprofit organizations in place to indoctrinate them. King has continued to take fire for his inquiry including the most recent accusation by the Pakistani-American woman who claims she was yanked off a Southwest Airlines flight by an attendant over-reacting because of a congressional hearing. Plenty of abuse to go around but absolutely no argument to support her charge and yet if we had to bet someone will probably lose their job because of this incident.
So the first question that needs to be posed is this: how long do we accept this blatant falsehood that Muslims in this country are being singled out and harassed because of their beliefs? The Los Angeles City Council has gone so far as to pass a resolution saluting pluralism and condemning statements critical of Islam as hate speech. This despite the findings of L.A.’s own Commission on Human Relations which revealed that 88% of all religiously based hate crimes in 2009 were against Jews. Muslims weighed in at a hefty 3%, just nosing out Scientologists.
Communities large and small across America have welcomed Muslim families and businesses and houses of worship and treated them as friends and neighbors. Yet organizations such as CAIR and the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which is behind the LA resolution, are manipulating that trust and creating a bogus indictment of prejudice and bigotry that is undermining law enforcement, our media, educational institutions, and political debate both at home and abroad. Whether it is Peter King, a professional broadcaster, or a concerned group of citizens, it is time to ask why and not stop until we get an answer.
If we say nothing or do nothing then expect more of the same. In fact, as we say in the news business, this just in. Last week Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the president for intergovernmental affairs and public engagement, announced a new campaign on MTV to fight bullying and intolerance online. Coalition partners in this effort include the National Council of La Raza, the Anti-Defamation League, GLAAD, and, of course, CAIR, the very same organization whose leaders the FBI has formally repudiated.
“Today’s world is of public opinion and the fates of nations are determined through its pressure. Once the tools for building public opinion are obtained, everything you asked for can be done.”
The author of that statement has a profound understanding of America and the world in the 21st century. Unfortunately, those are the words of Osama Bin Laden.